Conventional advice to limit sodium intake to no more than 2300 mg per day has been shown to increase death from cardiovascular disease. Ideal sodium intake is more likely in the range of 3000-6000 mg per day.
On the Undoctored program, sodium retention is reversed due to the removal of the gliadin protein and reduction in insulin. I therefore find that people living the Undoctored grain-free lifestyle need to purposefully salt their food.
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I can’t stress this enough: when you’re first starting out your program, to salt your food. And I really mean that.
Salt your food, preferably with a mineral-rich form of salt, like sea salt or Himalayan pink salt. The amount of minerals are modest, but you know, every little bit helps, because we’re all mineral deficient — at the start of the program certainly, but even long-term we can have mineral deficiency. Any healthy source of minerals can really help.
This of course is coupled with better hydration. We hydrate more, particularly in the first 10 days or so of your experience, where you’re losing a lot of water.
How much salt? Well, you may have gathered, from other conversations, that the common advice given to us by the American Heart Association, the U.S. government, other agencies, that we should limit our salt intake, our sodium intake, to 2300 milligrams (mg) per day, and people with serious issues like congestive heart failure, and some forms of hypertension, should limit their sodium to 1500 mg per day. Well, that has now been found to be a really bad idea. In fact, there’s a dramatic increase in death rate from cardiovascular disease when you cut sodium intake. In other words, the national advice, that Americans should limit their salt intake to 2300 mg per day has led to increased death from cardiovascular disease — just like the ridiculous advice to cut fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, led to obesity and an epidemic of Type 2 diabetes and other diseases. In other words, conventional dietary advice is bone-headed. It’s ridiculous. You should not follow that.
The most recent evidence suggests that 3000 to 6000 mg of sodium is fine, in most people. Now, let me qualify this by saying: if you have some very serious salt retaining tendency, some people — African-Americans are more likely to have this — people with congestive heart failure and kidney disease, now that’s outside of our basic program. So that salt prescription should still come from your doctor. I’m talking about everyday people, without those conditions. Here, 3000 to 6000 mg of sodium per day is probably the ideal level.
Here’s an interesting question: what about those of us who are either low-carb, grain-free, or ketotic, or for that matter, fasting, who lose a lot of sodium in our urine — because we don’t have sodium retention anymore? The gliadin protein of grains causes sodium retention. High insulin levels in grain-consuming, sugar-consuming people, causes sodium retention. Well, we reversed all that, and we lose salt. So we actually need to take in more salt than other people.
What’s not clear is: what’s the perfect level of sodium intake? A level of 5000 mg of sodium per day is about 2½ teaspoons of salt per day (sodium chloride). That’s about the roughly ideal level for most people; about 2½ teaspoons per day. You could count it — your sodium and your sodium chloride. It’s kind of a hassle, but you could do that. There are many tables and nutritional analysis panels that tell you. Or you just follow very simple rule: lightly salt your food with a mineral rich salt until it tastes good to you. And that, for most of us, works just fine. If you see some evidence of water retention; swelling of your ankles, or higher blood pressure, then you should back off.
Another little rule of thumb is: if you had some means of tracking your heart rate, particularly starting from the beginning of your program, like a Fitbit, or an Apple watch, or blood pressure monitor, that also gives you a heart rate. Many of the digital scales also give you a heart rate. If your heart rate goes up during your program, let’s say you start at 70 beats per minute, and it goes up to 84; or you start at 54 (because you’re a fit athlete) and it goes 63 — that’s not because you’re unfit. It’s because you’re dehydrated, with lack of salt. So why chose your resting heart rate? Because that can give you a hint that you’ve failed to take insufficient salt and/or water.
So, basic rule of thumb: salt your food till it tastes good to you. And that, for the vast majority of us, reflects a sodium intake of about 5000-6000 mg/day, a perfectly safe amount.